Submariner Training and the Submarine Escape Training Tower

Discussion in 'Submariners' started by Scouse_Castaway, Feb 18, 2011.

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  1. While I'm waiting for my application to progress, I've been reading about how the submariner training used to be and was reading about the SETT. Since its no longer part of Submariner training and to be honest looks like an absolutely unique experience I thought I'd see if anyone has any memories of it. Or Submariner training in general.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011
  2. Fun!!
    Where did you get that idea?
  3. Ignore that silly old fart! (Hi Fred - Happy New Year!) :slow:

    It was great fun - I loved it and even did it 'wet' once there was no need for me to do so. It was like an upside down parachute jump! But in lovely warm water wih superb viz. And it might just have saved my life too. Put it this way, if the poo had ever hit the fan, I'd have taken my chances in the big orange bag - as long as I was able to get through the hatch first before 'The Bear'!!! :-D
  4. It wasn't a barrel of laughs scouse especially if you had trouble clearing your ears when you were put under pressure in the escape chamber.Also not without it's dangers as quite a few lives were lost over the years.It was more a thing to be endured rather than enjoyed.
  5. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    I thought it was two lost in the 100 foot tank, one trainee and the Chief Instructor
  6. 2 in 74, we had to qualify dry in Nov because of the refit after.
  7. Scouse C

    There are a few videos featuring the SETT on YouTube. The ones I have seen most recently are of freedivers using the tank but I had a quick look again and found a video showing a visit by some Russians:

    YouTube - Submarine Escape Tank Training(SETT)
  8. There was a fatality in the 90's, a young lad still remembered by those who serve on the boat he was on at the time.

    RIP Bomber.
  9. witsend

    witsend War Hero Book Reviewer

    I've completed the 30m pressurised run a few times and enjoyed it each time. I missed my last chance a few years ago because they messed up my chest x-rays.

    I'm not sure low long a newbie course is, but if your a requal its 2 days. The course has evolved over the years with a, quite rightly IMO, massive emphasis put on when to escape. Rush escape has now been binned. Years ago they really only briefly skirted over pressure, CO2, O2 and radiation limits. Now your briefed about them and conduct a scenario in the classroom dealing with these limits.

    You'll still get wet at the bottom of the tower running through a tower cycle. You'll also dip yourself into the top of the pool to practice your blowing out rate. A new part of the course is two trainee's get dressed into suit's and enter a 2 man tower from the 8th floor. Plug into the HIS system and flood the tower. Your not under pressure and the water level only comes to the chest, but it gives you a good idea of escaping from a 2 man tower. You'll also practice getting into your life raft at the top of the pool with the suit on and chat about how to stay alive on the surface. You will sadly witness one of the staff do a pressurised run from 30m.

    All in all its a good course and it never hurts to brush up on some things you might have forgotten. Just a shame about the 30m run. I did hear that all is not lost, and things in the future might revert to pressurised runs again. The tank is a dinosaur and with H&S being what it is, just not at Blockhouse.
  10. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

  11. There was a lad I worked with at Neptune Sailing Centre who had something happen to him in the tank. Never really mentioned what it was even though he was convinced his pay out was going to be big!
  12. Subsunk

    Subsunk Badgeman Book Reviewer

    I thought it was fun - it was designed to give trainees a sense of the critical parts of SM escape without overloading them. Sobering to consider just how horrible the real situation could be, though. Prevention better than cure.
  13. I’ll give this a try…but remember it’s all done from memory

    Before doing the tank the first job is to do the decompression chamber to make sure your ears could stand the pressure …with half a dozen bodies inside the chamber is pressurised to 50lb per square inch this is the equivalent of 100 ft depth…..after a few minutes the pressure is slowly released during which a cold mist forms, so thick you can’t see your hand in front of your face …A bit disconcerting if you’re not expecting it

    The tank at Fort Blockhouse is 100ft deep and has entry points in the side through air locks at 30 and 60 ft then at the bottom in the middle is a hatch that leads into a simulated engine room compartment of a Diesel boat..minus the engines...This is also accessed from the outside….

    The principle of the free accent makes use of the fact that as a rule of thumb water pressure is half the depth in ft so when the compartment at the base of the tank is flooded at 100ft the compressed air that you breathe is at 50lb per square inch as this pressure is also acting on the outside of your lungs you are able to breathe normally..When you ascend and the depth decreases the pressure on your lungs also decreases so the air you took in at 50lbs expands slowly as you rise ….this allows you to breathe out as you rise through the 100ft till you get to the surface and normal air pressure (14.7lbs per square “)…

    On the day you are issued with a life jacket a nose clip and pussers trunks if needed….usually there is a class of 10 and only one wears the yellow safety suit ..
    First into the air lock at 30 ft and with it half flooded the inner side hatch is opened by the instructor and you duck down pass through the hatch and aided by your life jacket quickly rise to the surface.
    Next the same is done at 60ft only this time it takes a lot longer and more notice is taken of the depth markings on the way up….

    On entry to the compartment at the bottom the hatch is closed and the ten likely lads are hooked onto the BIBs this is a mouthpiece connected to the emergency air supply …
    Around the escape hatch there is a canvas tube which the instructor drops and the lashes to the deck …so now we have a canvas tube extending down from the hatch to about waist height….
    The compartment is flooded until the water, air and outside water are all equal pressure ..
    hopefully the water input should stop at about nipple level….Now the instructor ducks down inside the trunking and opens the hatch….now each man takes a last breath from the BIBS and
    leaves the compartment through the hatch..
    Outside you are grabbed by an instructor who seems to come from nowhere …who’s there to make sure you breathing out a steady stream of air…if you don’t he gives you a punch in the stomach… this usually does the trick but if it doesn't there is a diving bell nearby
    As you rise the air in your lungs expands so you have to breathe out all the way or you could burst your lungs…..
    When you reach the surface they make you line up and for the next half hour a medical team walk up and down the line checking you out…If no one drops dead you are dismissed and your comic cuts are marked up SETT COMPLETED and thats it for another year,

    As I say this is done from memory and is how we did it in the mid sixties …At the time there had been no fatalities ……

  14. I remember a young lad dying in 1974/5 ish.
    His name I think was Brown and he apparently ignored the 'No drinking the night before' rule and went out on the lash.
    The other one was supposed to be have been a Chillian CPO to the best of my knowledge.
    It was always interesting to see all the glop heads sitting in the Rosario club drinking orange juice etc as they were due the tank the following day. They always seemed to make up for it the night after.

    On another note, I have for the past 4 weeks been down in Dolphin again, victualled in the wardroom as I was teaching on a course at Nelson.(They wouldnt have let me in in 1974 for some reason)
    Nice to walk around the old place and get some photos and look at the old haunts in the area.
    Not much has changed and theres still a 'submariner' presence to the place in regards to trophies and pictures etc.
    All the trots are now swamped with sailing boats though.
    Alliance is in a shameful state.
    The George and Dragon is shut down as is the RA.
    Hopefully I'll go back again later in the year for another nostalgic top up.
  15. Perhaps 'fun' was an inadequate description:

    Those being honest would admit to an initial trepidation (in the certain knowledge that death would result in a 'Failed SETT' stamp in your Paybook) but the finale of the 100' free ascent and the tower escapes were exhilarating experiences to most folk.

    (Claim to fame of a chum of mine was being told by the Swim Boy Instructor to 'Give Wing Nut a shake' when a certain HRH had burred off during an afternoon classroom session circa 1971).
  16. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer

    Pretty much as I remember it UA from the same era. I would add that the 30' (x 2)and 60' ascents were uncomfortable to start with, you had a belt around your waist with a strap hanging down from both side, when it was your turn you backed up to the exit and the instructor attempted to shove your head up your arse (alledgedly so you didn't bang it on the was out) whilst two swimmers hauled you out through the hatch backwards, got you sorted and let go.
  17. On doing my requal one of the swim boys was our ex coxn. On seeing me he upended me and sent me to the top upside down. I was wearing a suit at the time thank goodness! The wire nearly put paid to my wedding prospects though.
  18. The Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officer (MCDO) course used to include 100 ft free ascents in the SETT. It was a great confidence booster to have under your belt in the event of having to bale out if things went pear-shaped during a dive. I'm sure this had something to do with one student surfacing alive after suffering a soda-lime 'cocktail' at 180 ft off Falmouth. He made a complete recovery and was subsequently awarded the DSC for his actions during Gulf War 1.
  19. A mate of mine used to 'free-dive' the SETT. He could get to the floor and back up again, and only passed-out once. He is a nutter though.
  20. witsend

    witsend War Hero Book Reviewer

    There was always a quickening of my breathing just as the water reached my chest and the hood misted up. ^^

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